Man charged in death of Iowa student was known by another name

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Mexican man charged with abducting and killing an Iowa college student was known for years on the dairy farm where he worked by another name: John Budd.

The alias has emerged as Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s employer, a cattle operation owned by a prominent Republican family, faces questions over whether its managers were aware of any warning signs that he was in the country illegally.

The name under which Rivera was hired and paid for the last four years was confirmed by three people with knowledge of his employment history. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information during an ongoing criminal investigation. One of the people said Rivera’s work identity as John Budd appears in official government records.

The employer, Yarrabee Farms, declined to confirm or deny Rivera’s work identity. Lori Chesser, an immigration employment lawyer advising the farm, said that companies cannot discriminate against workers based on how they look or how their names sound.

Farm officials have said Rivera presented an out-of-state photo identification and a Social Security number when he was hired in 2014, and they believed he was the person depicted in those documents until his arrest last month.

The farm followed legal requirements to examine the documents and determined “that they appeared genuine on their face and related to the person presenting them,” Chesser said. “Questioning a name or other characteristic would violate the anti-discrimination provisions of the law.”

During his four years at the farm near the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa, Rivera “was called and responded to the name he used in the hiring process,” Chesser said. He lived in a trailer owned by the farm as a benefit of his employment, as do about half of its 10 workers.

The farm did not use the government’s voluntary E-Verify system, which allows companies to confirm the identity and eligibility of employees to work in the U.S. Farm manager Dane Lang has apologized for a mistake in falsely claiming to have used E-Verify in an initial statement on Rivera’s Aug. 21 arrest, hours after he allegedly led police to Mollie Tibbetts’ body in a nearby cornfield.

It’s unclear whether E-Verify would have detected any red flags with Rivera’s claimed identity, but the farm has said it used a different government service to confirm that the name and Social Security number matched.

Police say Rivera followed and confronted Tibbetts while she was out for a run on July 18 and later stabbed her to death. He has been jailed on $5 million bond while awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge, which carries a sentence of life in prison. The federal government has also filed an immigration detainer, which means he would be subject to deportation proceedings if acquitted.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment on whether the agency is investigating Yarrabee Farms, which has said that it received dozens of angry phone calls after Rivera was arrested.

Tibbetts’ father, Rob Tibbetts, has urged the public not to bring his daughter’s death into the divisive racial debate over immigration.

“The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Des Moines Register.

Employers typically do not face legal consequences for hiring a worker under false documents as long as they were not involved in obtaining them and had no other obvious reason to suspect they are fraudulent, said Bob Teig, a retired federal prosecutor in Iowa.

“Absent unusual circumstances, it would be difficult to show they knew any more than what they were told,” Teig said, adding that it would be “pretty racist” to assume a John Budd could not be Hispanic.

Whether anyone else knew Rivera as John Budd is unclear. The 24-year-old had a Facebook page under his real name, and his account listed many friends from the central Iowa area. He has a girlfriend and a young daughter, his former attorney has said.

Rivera had neither an Iowa-issued identification under any name nor any known criminal history or interactions with police. It’s unclear who owned the car that he allegedly used to circle Tibbetts.

Rivera’s former defense lawyer, Allan Richards, has accused the farm and other employers in the area of turning a “blind eye” to the reality that many of their workers are in the U.S. illegally and employed under false documents. He has said that Rivera came to the U.S. when he was around 17 and has the equivalent of a middle-school education.

Erica Johnson, an advocate who directs the American Friends Service Committee’s immigration program in Iowa, said the case highlights the “precarious position” that immigrant workers and their employers face.

“We have an immigration system that doesn’t account for the labor needs or economic realities of Iowa businesses and farms,” she said. “So what do you do? Do you rightly not racially profile people and take the information they give you because you need workers?”

ad-high_impact_4
News
Multi-agency DUI Strike Team focused solely on arresting impaired drivers
The newly formed DUI Strike Team made up of Las Vegas police officers and Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers have hit the streets looking for impaired drivers. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christmas Tree Inspection
Nevada Division of Forestry employees search for illegally harvested Christmas trees in local lots during the holidays. (Michael Scott Davidson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One dead in a suspected DUI crash in east Las Vegas
The crash was reported just before 4:10 a.m. at Washington and Eastern avenues.
Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like